Why do I spend so much damn time thinking about Twitter?

I’ve been using Twitter since 2007. In that time I’ve loved it, hated it, quit it, rejoined it, binged it, purged it, and blogged about it. I’ve even tried multiple Twitter clones. Recently but before that I even paid for!

I was essentially off my phone for two straight weeks recently. First on vacation and then at a work conference. In that whole two weeks, I was completely off Twitter (and Mastodon). I really enjoyed staying off social media — particularly on my phone. This has me wondering if I should (again) leave Twitter altogether.

Except that Twitter is a vital source of news, information, and entertainment for me. As I mentioned, I’ve tried giving up Twitter before. Each time, those are the things that bring me back. And every time, what has driven me away is the sense that I’m wasting way too much time on it. So maybe the thing to figure out it is this: what is an acceptable amount of time to spend “wasting” on Twitter?

Another problem I’ve had with Twitter is the sheer volume of information you can access.

Can I fix this problem for myself somehow? I certainly haven’t yet. So whatever I’m going to try has to be something I haven’t tried before.

Here’s what I know doesn’t work:

  • Having no plan
  • Restricting who I follow to only people I know IRL
  • Restricting who I follow to some specific number
  • Deleting my account
  • Uninstalling the app from my phone

Here’s what I’m going to try:

  • Tweet Deck
  • Lists
  • Follow Restrictions

I’ve tried limiting how many people I follow in multiple ways before, and they are too arbitrary. It’s always too restrictive and then I give up completely and then chaos ensues and I’m back where I started. So the plan is to severely limit the number of people I follow, but to also allow myself to add anyone and everyone to lists. That way if I’m compulsively checking but I’ve restricted my timeline there’s less to see and less time wasted. But if I’m actually interested in something that’s happen (EG some big news event), or I’m “legitimately” killing time (EG sitting around an airport, or taking a break at work), then I still have access to lists of people I want to “follow” in those cases.

The Twitter iOS app handles lists very poorly, which works in my favor here. If I’m checking Twitter on my phone, I will want to avoid lists. But if there’s something happening that I really want to keep up on, I’ll want to take the time to remember how to find where my lists are in the app. This leads into why I will use TweetDeck. It’s great for lists, but is basically impossible to use on mobile platforms. In other words, if I’m killing time at work because I’m waiting on something, or I need a break, then seeing all my lists at once is fine. If I’m checking Twitter just to check it, then I’ve limited myself to what’s in my restricted timeline. Unless there’s some kind of event happening either on Twitter (big news) or for me (waiting in line at the grocery store), in which case I’ll dig into my lists on my phone.

This gets into the follow restrictions thing. I will restrict who I follow, but have no rule in place. If I start to get overwhelmed then I know it’s time to move some people to lists and start unfollowing them. Having that system in place will hopefully mean that I won’t be drinking from the firehose every time I open the app, but I also haven’t lost access to potentially interesting stuff when the time is right.

I hate that I had to come up with some sort of system to deal with this, but I definitely need a system. Giving up Twitter altogether is starting to feel like the idea of giving up internet or electricity; possible but completely impractical. But every time I go “all in” and just use Twitter without some attempt to limit myself, I fall into the same pattern: check it compulsively for no reason any time my attention span hits its limits, and then fall into a hole so deeply that I completely forget whatever I was doing for the next hour.


3 x $200+ Cell Phone Bills

“Only a moron would spend $80 to $100 dollars per month just for cell service,” I thought to myself. “There must be a cheaper option!”

“I have a lot of sensitive personal data on my phone. I need to enable full disk encryption on my Android.”

These two things by themselves are totally innocuous. But together they ended up costing me over $600 in bills over the course of only 3 months.
Continue reading


Year of Code

I set a goal for myself at the beginning of 2014 to contribute to an open source project I didn’t start, and get my contribution accepted by the developers. As the year went on, I cataloged it in a special section of my blog. Now that the year is over, I’m moving it to a regular post. I’m pretty sure that this is not up to date, since I’ve barely touched my blog in about a year. For example I know I contributed to the Selenium project, and I think that was still in 2014, but it’s not listed anywhere here. At any rate, aside from this paragraph, I moved the thing whole sale from its own page into a regular blog entry.

Continue reading


Admitting Defeat / Lessons Learned

Today, on the same day I decided to give up on a personal project I’ve been working on for months, I also gave up on a project that was already live. I decided to force myself to reflect on these failures by writing about them, and to force myself not to feel too bad about them by listing the positive things I have learned and can take away from these projects.

After admitting defeat on several fronts today, I watched this speech Adam Savage gave at The Amazing Meeting #7, and decided to make use of these failures.

Continue reading


Get Weird #1: How to Trespass

One of my resolutions this year is to Get Weird. It is a modification to a resolution from a few years ago, to Do Awesome Things. I was checking my calendar on Monday (the 7th), when a Nerd York City entry jumped out at me: How to Trespass. This sounded really interesting, and Weird. So I decided to check it out. As you can see from the photo above, it was definitely weird. That’s a carousel horse on the stage. As might also be able to tell, the place was PACKED. Apparently, white New Yorkers are really into being where they aren’t supposed to be. (I specifically mention that most of the people there were white, because it will come up later.)

Continue reading


My Sleep Routine

TL;WR (Too Long; Won’t Read):
10PM: IFTTT texts me, reminding me I feel better when I get sufficient sleep. Within (usually) about 30 minutes, I have shut off my TV, and taken a melatonin. I set a countdown timer for 9 hours, climb into bed, and load up the fiction book I’m currently reading on my kindle. (I save non-fiction for my commute.) Then read until I fall asleep. About 8 hours after that, I wake up without the ability to snooze, feeling much better rested than I used to be.

Continue reading